Adam & early-18c gap

Note: pages in our 18c Leverhulme study section were originally published on the website in 2010. Links have since been checked and updated.

Examples from Adam’s work which plug the OED gap in early-18th-century quotations: Adam Table 4b

WordQuotationOED datesFills early 18th-century gap (number of years between existing OED quotations)Comments
exasperate, ppl. adj.'Here did exasp'rat sorrow break his Chains' (p. 128)1601, 1606, 1622, 1795, 1854, 1856173This is OED1/2 sense 2. The distribution of quotations makes it look as if the term was unused over a significant number of years, which seems unlikely.
carnal'Hydra like, when one [sin] is cut, Afresh will seven grow: And still while carnal Motives lead, The Matter will go so' (p. 15)1483, c1510, 1611, 1781, 1839170Adam's use comes under OED1/2 sense 4, 'Not spiritual, in a negative sense; material, temporal, secular', for which there are no quotations between 1611 (Bible) and 1781 (Gibbon). OED's 18th-century evidence for the adjective is under-supplied for other senses too.
oarless'Only just Noah built himself an Ark, / To save his Race, and Helmless, Oarless, Bark' (p. 61)1605, 1771, 1813, 1852...166OED3 (draft entry Mar 2004) gives the impression that oarless was unused over most of the 17th century and the 18th century up to 1771; Adam's evidence rectifies this (NB OED3 did catch Adam's similar use of pilotless.
benefactor'This harmony was noble and divine: / All joyed to see their benefactor [the God of Day] shine' (p. 142)1532, 1605, 1769, 1848164OED1/2 defines s.v. sense 1: 'One who renders aid or kindly service to others, a friendly helper; one who advances the interests of a cause or institution, a patron.' It is hard to imagine that there are not lots of other examples available to cover the big gap 1605-1769.
anticipate'Thou sweet anticipating Grace, Thou makes us ere our Time possess' (p. 19)1524, 1623, 1783 (Cowper)160OED1/2 sense 1: 'To seize or take possession of beforehand'.
interchange, n.'With thee the mutual Interchange of Thought / Is not the least of Blessings here below' (p. 144)...1611, 1632, 1791, 1804, 1885159OED1/2 defines sense 1a as 'The act of exchanging reciprocally; giving and receiving with reciprocity; reciprocal exchange (of commodities, courtesies, ideas, etc.) between two persons or parties'; Adam's use - surely not unusual - fills a big gap.
animated'What Way was Man created at the first? / Is he like Beasts, but animated Dust? (p. 84)1534, 1615, 1774, 1784, 1858159This is OED1/2 1a: 'Endowed with life; living, alive'; OED's 18th-century quotations are from Goldsmith (1774) and Cowper (1784).
overlook'And shall his Pow'r be overlookt / Who makes the Mountains melt?' (p. 29)...1534, 1646, 1794148This looks like OED1/2 sense 2: 'trans. fig. To look down on; to despise; to treat with contempt, to slight', which must be the right one here. Once again, Adam supplies a useful interim quotation.
inanimate, a.'Shall Nature's Works inanimate / Declare the Power of God?' (p. 26)1563-87, 1643, 1784 (Cowper), 1828, 1866, 1880141This is OED1/2 sense 1: 'Not animated or alive; destitute of life, lifeless; spec. not endowed with animal life, as in inanimate nature, that part of nature which is without sensation, i.e. all outside the animal world'. Adam's example is again useful evidence for interim use between 1643 and 1784.
awful'Surpriz'd was I too see so fair a Form [...] I at an awfull Distance stood amaz'd' (p. 143)1593, 1607, 1641, 1781, 1846, 1879140OED1/2 defines sense 6 as 'Profoundly respectful or reverential'; as frequently, the early 18th century is under-represented in the quotations.
aliment'My Surety came to satisfy the Law; / The mighty Sum for me he frankly pay'd, / And in my Hand the free Discharge he laid. / Nor is a free Discharge half of my Gains, / For yet a constant Aliment remains' (p. 10)1640-1, 1780139The context (Surety, Law, Discharge) makes it clear that Adam is using legal language figuratively, as in a long tradition of literary and theological commentary on Christ's sacrifice for man (her obvious immediate model is Milton). OED1/2 treats this sense s.v. 3: 'Sc. Law and gen. Provision for the maintenance of any one, called in Eng. Law ALIMONY; an allowance, annuity or pension'. Adam's use fills the OED gap in documentation, and just as interestingly provides a figurative example of the term, showing that usage was not confined to legal contexts (as in the existing OED quotations).
rural'Lord Jehovah is my Swain [...] His rural weeds adorn me more / Than Crowns of shining Gold' (p. 30); 'from the Rural to the Royal Tent / Yet unabash'd the blooming Shepherd [David] went' (p. 67)1513, 1617, 1634 (Milton), 1770 (Goldsmith), 1784 (Cowper), 1874 (G. Eliot)136This must be OED1/2 3a: 'Of or pertaining to, characteristic of, peasants or country-folk; rustic'. Given that Milton used the word several times there are likely to be other late-17th-century/early-18th-century examples available.
maze'through this Maze of Matter lead my Way' (p. 1); cf. 'No Strand or Stream in all the Maze of Life. / But he could Wade or Swim with me his Wife' (p. 57), and 'thy son [...] / Had trac'd thee almost thro' the Maze of Life' (p. 58)...1605, 1615, 1646, 1781, 1837, 1849, 1872...135A second 18th-century example of OED3 sense 4b (for maze noun 1): 'In extended use: a complex network of paths or streets; a bewildering mass of things (material or immaterial), in which the individual components are difficult to separate or make out' (draft entry Dec 2008). This sense is evidenced by 4 16th-century, 3 17th-century, 1 (late) 18th-century, 3 19th-century and 3 20th-century quotations, giving the impression that it was less current, for whatever reason, in the early 18th century. This seems unlikely and Adam's examples help to redress the balance. ECCO searches indicate that the phrase 'Maze of Life' was used quite frequently in 18th-century texts.
subtle'A little lower [than the heavens] dwells the subtile Air' (and cf. 'thro' suttle Air' a few lines later) (p. 5)...1660, 1665, 1799, 1842, 1863, 1891134A second 18th-century instance of OED1/2 sense 1: 'Of thin consistency, tenuous; not dense, rarefied; hence, penetrating, pervasive or elusive by reason of tenuity (now chiefly of odours)'. Adam's example is a useful intermediate one between 1665 (Dryden) and 1799 (Medical Journal) and corrects the impression the word was less used in the 18th century than in the 17th and 19th centuries.
unwrinkled'The richest, wisest, fairest, Maid, be thine, / And live unwrinkled by the Course of Time' (p. 133)1576, 1592, 1643, a1649, 1784, 1801, 1864...134The current OED record suggests the early 18th century (and late 17th century) have no record of this word, which seems unlikely.
mark, n.1'In thee's the Mark, in whom all Arrows meet' (p. 24)...1660, 1792, a1798...132This must be OED3 sense 23a (draft revision Dec 2008): 'A target, butt, or other object set up to be aimed at with a missile or projectile. Hence also: a person or animal targeted by an archer, spear-thrower, etc. Also in fig. context', illustrated from the 13th century on.
spot, n.1'Although their Intrest it secures, / And frees their Fame from Spots' (p. 28)...1639, 1650, 1781, 1844131OED1/2 sense 1: 'fig. a. A moral stain, blot, or blemish; a stigma or disgrace'.
deformity'Deformity is oft oblidg'd to dress' (p. 25)...1634, 1762-71, 1805128OED1/2 sense 1, 'The quality or condition of being marred or disfigured in appearance; disfigurement; unsightliness, ugliness.'
sparing'The Robe of Cruel Saul his Foe he cut / When he as easily might reach'd his Throat. / Thus he convinc'd him by a sparing Hand, / How far he was from Foe, how near a Friend' (p. 66)...1605, a1626, 1658-9, 1786 (Burns)127This is OED1/2 sense 4: 'Forbearing; merciful, considerate', illustrated with quotations dated 14th century, 1605, a1626, 1658-9, then (finally) 1786 (Burns). Adam's example evens out the quotation distribution.
hollow'Abel's approv'd, because in Heart sincere, / And hollow Cain frown'd off with Threats severe' (p. 60)...1593, 1593, 1655, 1769, 1781, 1832...114This is OED1/2 sense 5: 'fig. Of persons and things: Wanting soundness, solidity, or substance; empty, vain; not answering inwardly to outward appearance; insincere, false.' Adam fills the early 18th-century gap.
covenant'The Cov'nant he [the Lord] hath made with me, / For ever shall endure' (p. 32; cf. 'This Cov'nant he [God] confirmed by an Oath', p. 62; 'for a Memorial of his Covenant', p. 63)...1611, 1667, 1779, 1818, 1881112This must be OED1 sense 7: 'Scripture. Applied esp. to an engagement entered into by the Divine Being with some other being or persons', for which there are 2 14th-century, 1 16th-century, 2 17th-century, 1 18th-century, and 2 19th-century quotations. So Adam's examples are useful again - and again, surely easily replicable.
organ, n.1'What tho' the Feind his Organ change,' The Spirit's still the same: If now he took a Serpent's Form, His Fraud would be too plain' (p. 13)...1548, 1568, 1602, 1675, 1785, 1849, 1888, 1920, 1989110This is OED3 sense 5a: 'A means of action or operation, an instrument; (now) esp. a person, body of people, or thing by which some purpose is carried out or some function is performed' (draft revision June 2009). Adam's example corrects the impression given by the distribution of OED quotations that the word was less used in the 18th century than in the 16th, 17th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
spark, n.1'he had not a Spark of Nature left' (p. 60)...1601, 1697, a1770, 1775...105OED1/2 n.1 2a: 'A small trace, indication, or portion of some quality, feeling, sentiment, etc., in some way comparable to a spark, esp. in respect of its latent possibilities.' The OED record makes it look as if the early 18th century lacks evidence for this usage - but it does not.
jovial'upon the jovial Plain' (p. 38)...1685, 1789...104OED1/2 sense 6: 'Characterized by hearty mirth, humour, or good fellowship; merry, jolly; convivial', illustrated with 1 16th-century, 3 17th-century, 1 18th-century, and 2 19-century quotations. A gap between Dryden 1685 and W. Buchan 1789. So Adam's example is useful here.
requisite'all that Men think requisite / For such a mighty one' (p. 43)1472-3, 1522, 1592, 1611, 1659, 1761, 1878101Another example of an unremarkable usage which is not given illustration from the 18th century that is comparable with that from the 17th and 19th. Adam's example is useful here (and another quotation from the early 19th century would be useful too).
blooming'from the Rural to the Royal Tent / Yet unabash'd the blooming Shepherd [David] went' (p. 71)1675, 1774, 185599This is OED1/2 sense 2a fig.: 'In the bloom of health and beauty, in the prime of youth; flourishing', illustrated from Dryden Blacklock and Macaulay. Adam fills early the 18th-century gap - and supplies a further example for sparsely illustrated sense.
staff, n.1'Thou art the Staff on which we lean' (p. 19)OE and ME quotations to 1377, no 15th-century quotations, then three 16th-century ones ending with 1590, then 1666, 1760-62, 1857 (followed by 1860, 1803 and 1907)94This unexceptional usage is OED1/2 sense 1: '1. a. A stick carried in the hand as an aid in walking or climbing. Now chiefly literary (e.g. in reference to 'pilgrims')'. Usage of this word is unlikely to have been as chronologically uneven as OED's existing quotations imply, and Adam's 1734 example is a useful interim attestation.
compendious'Two vast compendious Books to me were giv'n' (p. 82)...1605, 1667, 1774, 184293OED1/2 sense 1: 'Containing the substance within small compass, concise, succinct, summary; comprehensive though brief; esp. of literary works; also of their authors.' Not a problematic usage in any way, but while there are 3 15th-century, 2 16th-century, and 2 17th-century quotations, there is only 1 18th-century (and unusually, only 1 19th-century).
jarring'These jarring Intrests always will contend' (p. 60)1661, 1762, 184987OED1/2 sense 3: 'Discordant, conflicting, clashing', sparsely attested: three quotations in all. So Adam's example useful.
dire'What dire Presumption can inspire such Rage, / As with Omnipotence a War to wage!' (p. 54)1605, 1667, 1681, 1768, a1774, 1784, 1853, 186887This is OED1/2's first listed adjectival sense, in a definition from Johnson's Dictionary: '"Dreadful, dismal, mournful, horrible, terrible, evil in a great degree" (J.).' As often, the first half of the 18th century is left unillustrated, and the three bunched quotations from the second half of the century make it look as if the word was more current then than previously. Almost certainly this is not the case. Adam's example would correct that impression.
equity'Thou art not yet above the sky / Where Equity prevails' (p. 45)1611, 1660, 1673, 1759,1832, 187086This is the general sense of equity (i.e. not the specialised use in jurisprudence), viz. OED1/2 sense 1: 'The quality of being equal or fair; fairness, impartiality; evenhanded dealing.' Again, an 18th-century dip in OED's quotation distribution which Adam's example helps correct.
plank'Thou art the Plank on which we swim' (p. 19)...1690, a1775, 1787...85This answers precisely to the definition for OED3 sense 1c (draft revision June 2009): 'fig. or in figurative context, chiefly with reference to the plank to which a shipwrecked person clings in order to avoid drowning'. There are four 17th-century quotations up to 1690, then a gap till a1775 and 1787 - so Adam's example is useful for attesting usage in the early 18th century.
spare, v.1'See! how he kills the Foe, and spares the Man' (p. 66)...a1628, 1697, 1780 (Cowper), 1825, 189183This is an example of OED1/2 sense 1a trans.: 'To leave (a person) unhurt, unharmed, or uninjured; to refrain from inflicting injury or punishment upon; to allow to escape, go free, or live. Usually with personal subject', illustrated from 825 on with two 17th-century, 1 18th-century, and 2 19th-century quotations.
governess'Here uncorrupted lives the Governess, / Inspir'd as by a Mother's Tenderness, / Yet her Authority is ne'er the less' (p. 114)1587, 1615, 1653, 1688, 177183OED1/2 differentiates from current sense (sense 2b) and defines '2. a. A woman who has charge or control of a person, esp. of a young one. Obs.'
unconfounded'Our GOD is one united Trinity [...] Unseparate, unconfounded ever more' (p. 83)1577, 1612, 1676, 1758, 1836, 185682OED defines by cross-referring to un-, prefix1 sense 8 and, as often, under-documents the early 18th century (and there is one 18th-century quotation vs 2 17th-century and 2 19th-century).
calling, vbl. n.'For I [God] have furnish'd every human Kind / With lawfull Callings, more or less refin'd / By which they may obtain the Means of Life' (p. 95)...1642, 1687, 1768-78, 1841-4, 1848, 187281This is OED1/2 sense 11a: 'Ordinary occupation, means by which livelihood is earned, business, trade', which lacks an early 18th-century example (contrast the 2 17th-century and 3 19th-century quotations). The entry explains that the usage is etymologised with reference to '1 Cor. vii. 20, Gr., L. vocatione, where it stands for the condition or position in which one was when called to salvation', and that it is 'often mixed up with sense 9 ["The summons, invitation, or impulse of God to salvation or to his service"], as if it meant the estate in life to which God has called a man.' Adam's example makes this supposed etymology very clear.
leafless'View the Leafless, Flowerless Tree' (p. 22)1697, 1776-97, plus 4 19th-century quotations79ECCO evidence suggests there are many other early 18th-century examples of this word; the present run of OED1/2 evidence suggests that it suddenly came back into use at the end of the 18th century after a period of remission.
impartial'Then to th'impartial Mirrour straight I flew' (p. 9); 'The Impartial Law of God in Nature' (poem title, p. 25)1593, 1601, 1693, 1769, 183876OED1/2 sense 1 ('Not partial [...] unprejudiced, unbiased, fair, just'). The term is sparsely illustrated in OED.
tackling'With pure Desires her silken Sails were fill'd, / And from the Cable to the smallest Cord, / Her Tacklings all were of unspotted Love' (p. 157)...1529, c1615, 1676, 1696, 176973OED1/2 sense 1b. The interest here is that the last quotation (1769), from a Dictionary of Marine Terms (Falconer), refers to 'the obsolete word Tackling, which is now entirely disused by our mariners'. Adam's example shows that it was in use, figuratively at any rate, as late as 1734 (i.e. well after the date of the previous quotation, 1696).
gourmandize'Old Saturn gormandizes on his Son; / Sin gormandizes upon Sin' (p. 3)...1628, 1693, 1768-4, 1802, 185371This is OED1/2 sense 1, intr.: 'To eat like a glutton; to feed voraciously'. OED's distribution of quotations indicates the verb was used less often in the 18th century than in the 19th or 18th century, which is unlikely to be the case.
oral'The Oral Law he plac'd in Noah's Hand, / The most of which firm to this Day doth stand' (p. 63)1657, c1680, 1751 (Johnson), 1874...71This must be OED3 sense 2b (draft revision Sept 2009): 'Of disputes, negotiations, agreements, contracts, etc.: conducted by the means of the spoken word; transacted by word of mouth; communicated in speech; spoken, verbal.' The term is sparsely evidenced; Adam's example is a good illustration of the word's use and meaning and shows the continued use of the sense in the first half of the 18th century.
remains'There ly interr'd the black Remains of Sin' (p. 4)1700 (Dryden), a1771 (Gray), 1797 (Mrs Radcliffe), 1818 (Shelley), 1851 (Macaulay)71OED1/2 sense 7b: 'That which is left of a person when life is extinct; the (dead) body, corpse'. Adam's 1734 example is a useful interim one, showing that the first recorded example for this term, from Dryden (1700), is not an outlier, and also providing evidence that the term is naturalised (Dryden's example is a translation from Ovid and Gray's a translation from Dante).

Last updated on 30 July 2019